In mid-October, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its fifth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia in order of their energy efficiency efforts. Although California was ranked No. 1 for the past four years, it was bumped from the top spot this year by Massachusetts.

2011 Rankings

“This year we welcome a new state to the top of our rankings. Massachusetts overtook California for the first time in scorecard history,” said Michael Sciortino, senior research analyst and lead author of the scorecard, at a press conference announcing the results in October. He noted that Massachusetts has some of the most advanced building codes and land use policies in the country.

But, Sciortino added, California remains an undisputed leader in energy efficiency, and he clarified that when a state drops in the rankings it does not necessarily mean that it’s backsliding but others are simply moving ahead faster.

According to ACEEE, the top 10 states are Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland.

“The states at the top of our scorecard remain at the cutting edge, adopting bold policies for energy efficiency,” Sciortino said.

The 10 states most in need of improvement are North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, and South Dakota. However, Alabama was also named as one of the six most improved states, along with Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, and Tennessee.

In its research methodology, ACEEE examined six policy areas for each state:

1. Utility and public benefits programs and policies;

2. Transportation policies;

3. Building energy codes;

4. Combined heat and power;

5. State government initiatives; and

6. Appliance efficiency standards.

According to ACEEE, states can earn up to 50 possible points in these six policy areas combined. This year Massachusetts scored 45.5 points and California scored 44 points.

State Recognition

At the press conference, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts accepted the top recognition from ACEEE, saying, “It’s nice to be No. 1, and we have earned it.”

Patrick noted that he has focused on energy efficiency since taking office in 2007. “We see energy efficiency in the commonwealth as our first fuel. … The most economical fuel is that which we do not use,” he said. “We are investing more per capita in energy efficiency than any other state in the nation.”

Of particular note, Maryland made its first appearance in the top 10 and was also highlighted as one of the six most improved states in the 2011 scorecard. Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, spoke at the press conference about his state’s efforts.

“I am thrilled that Maryland is being recognized as one of the top 10 states and one of the most improved states for energy efficiency,” he said. “As a result of Governor O’Malley’s vision in establishing one of the nation’s most aggressive energy efficiency goals, Marylanders have already saved over 700,000 MWh of electricity and over $91 million dollars since 2009, and our peak demand program has helped us avoid major blackouts during our record-setting summer heat wave.”

ACEEE promoted this theme of energy savings. “Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs,” Sciortino said.

“With even higher energy savings possible, we expect leading states to continue pushing the envelope next year and inspire those at the bottom of the rankings to embrace energy efficiency as a core strategy to gain a competitive advantage by generating cost-savings, promoting technological innovation, and stimulating growth.”

Publication date: 12/19/2011